Drawing on experience to develop REDD+ benefit sharing in the Republic of the Congo

  • Year

    2014 – 2015

  • Location

    Republic of the Congo

  • Budget

    EUR 300 000

  • Funded by

    European Union


The EU REDD Facility has contributed to the development of an improved model for sharing benefits from REDD+ in the Republic of the Congo. The model draws on experiences from the country’s existing local development funds.

By analysing existing benefit-sharing models in different sectors in the Republic of the Congo, engaging with stakeholders, providing technical assistance and building capacity, this project has supported the development of a mechanism for rewarding forest-friendly behaviour and providing local communities with benefits from REDD+ funds.

The objective

Benefit sharing is a key component of any REDD+ mechanisms because it rewards good performance and forest-friendly behaviour. The main objective of the project was to explore options for sharing benefits from REDD+ that build on existing benefit-sharing schemes in the country rather than introducing a new or parallel system. In the Republic of Congo, local development funds in the forest sector are among the most advanced benefit-sharing mechanisms to draw from.

The work was aimed at informing national and international policy makers working on REDD+, as well as bilateral and multilateral projects such as the Forests and Economic Diversification Project (PFDE), Support Project for Sustainable Management of Forests in Republic of the Congo (PAGEF), Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and UN-REDD.

The challenge

Local community development, funded by revenues from forestry or payments for ecosystem services, is fundamental to the success of FLEGT and REDD+. The Republic of the Congo has laws and arrangements for sharing benefits in several sectors, and considerable experience in sharing benefits in the forestry sector. The social clauses in forest concession contracts and the legal requirement to provide local development funds for financing small socioeconomic projects oblige forest concession holders to contribute to local development.

However, the management of local development funds is not always effective, and local communities do not always benefit from micro-projects. In the forest sector, the lack of legal guidance provided by the Forest Code means that local development funds set their own rules and regulations. Because of these difficulties and inefficiencies, concession holders are cautious to invest time and resources in the funds. This means that concession holders fail to comply with the legal obligations and FLEGT VPA legality requirements, and that funding for local development is inadequate. Also, existing local development funds simply compensate communities for restricted access to forest resources, rather than encourage stakeholders to participate in forest-friendly efforts and reward good performance as envisaged through REDD+.

Stronger governance of local development funds and greater capacity among local beneficiaries will help the Republic of the Congo build an effective, efficient and equitable benefit-sharing system for forestry that responds to local needs, is effectively organised and rewards performance. This in turn will provide valuable lessons and good practices to develop benefit-sharing mechanisms for other revenue streams from REDD+ and payments for environmental services programmes.

The National REDD+ Strategy will outline the principles and building blocks for a robust REDD+ benefit-sharing system. The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Emissions Reduction Programme provides an opportunity to test the system.

Local community of the Republic of the Congo

The approach

The project examined and drew on existing institutions and models for sharing benefits in the Republic of the Congo. Activities included:

  1. Analysing existing benefit-sharing schemes across different sectors in the Republic of the Congo
  2. Supporting stakeholder exchanges at national and local levels
  3. Studying community dynamics, beneficiaries and capacities to design, implement and follow-up on micro-projects, and identifying opportunities to strengthen local capacities
  4. Providing legal guidance and support for establishing and improving the governance and operation of local development funds to improve their effectiveness and ensure participation
  5. Providing recommendations to National REDD+ Coordination on developing a benefit-sharing mechanism for REDD+ that builds on existing experiences and ensures that benefits are effectively distributed to stakeholders

Results and impact


  • The analysis of benefit-sharing experiences in the Republic of the Congo has shown that secure land tenure, land-use planning and the clarification of ambiguities in formal and customary laws are important in developing sustainable and effective benefit sharing mechanisms. It has also demonstrated that benefit sharing in the forestry sector is more developed and well-documented than in any other economic sector.
  • Support at national and local levels has enabled stakeholders, forest concession holders and local authorities to exchange their experiences and develop recommendations for local development funds covering institutional set-up, financial governance, complaint mechanisms as well as the identification, management and evaluation of micro-projects.
  • Training materials and tools have helped build the capacity of actors, in local communities in particular, to develop micro-projects and set up local institutional structures to manage them in an effective way.
  • Through local and national dialogue with stakeholders, recommendations to amend legal texts have been made to strengthen the governance of local developments funds. These proposals will help to ensure compliance by forest concession holders with the legal framework and VPA legality requirements.
  • Recommendations and lessons from working with local development funds in the forest sector have contributed to the development of an effective and locally adapted REDD+ benefit-sharing mechanism in the Republic of the Congo.


  • The study has provided a key input into the development of national benefit sharing under REDD+.
  • The capacity of stakeholders to set up local development funds and manage resources effectively has increased.
  • Capacity building activities and management tools developed through the project have helped local communities learn how to utilise local development funds more effectively. They will also assist forest concession holders and local authorities set up local development funds in managed concessions across the country.
  • Legal text proposals to strengthen the governance of local development funds have helped inform the ongoing revision of the Forest Code. The revision was triggered by the FLEGT VPA process and other emerging developments in the forest sector.
  • Recommendations for the improvement of local development funds have been taken up by the National REDD Coordination and are currently informing the National REDD+ Strategy and the benefit-sharing plan of the World Bank’s FCPF Emission Reduction Programme.